The Basic Genealogy Checklist

Genealogy checklistThis little book is a gem! The Basic Genealogy Checklist: 101 Tips & Tactics to Find Your Family History, by Henrietta M. Christmas and Paul F. Rhetts.

Henrietta and Paul are longtime friends (of each other). She is the President of the New Mexico Genealogical Society, and a recent acquaintance of mine; he has written over two dozen nonfiction and history books. As a longtime genealogy researcher who has started providing family history research services to others, I was curious enough about this new book to attend their signing, at Bookworks Albuquerque, and to buy a copy for myself. Just so you know, this review was my idea, not theirs.





The Basic Genealogy Checklist is a gem! 101 Tips & Tricks to Find Your Family History. Click To Tweet

This book was written for beginners and experienced genealogists alike.

From the back cover:

Author Henrietta M. Christmas at her Bookworks Albuquerque signing.

“Today, genealogy ranks second as a hobby only to gardening as the most searched topic online….This book is designed to help genealogists of all types and at all stages in their search. There are several hundred tips, tactics, and online web links provided to help the beginner find the right path to get started or the experienced researcher to jump ahead to the next level.”

Many longer, more detailed books focus on how to do genealogy research — in general, in specific regions, in different eras, using specific types of documents — but this one can be picked up for a few minutes at a time just to stimulate ideas.

The tips fall into the following categories:

The Basics/Getting Started

Brick Walls & Deadends

Groups & Organizations

Special Documents


Tips range from Visit a Cemetery and Use Google Maps, to Work Backwards and Meet up With a Distant Cousin. There are several tips related to taking, organizing, preserving, and sharing family photos and other types of memorabilia, which will interest my APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers) colleagues. Here are a couple I hadn’t thought of: Pass Down Your Recipes and What if They Were Behind Bars?

Don’t feel like doing a lot of reading? No problem. Most of the tips are only a page long, and the book is full of illustration and photos. And ideas. Lots of ideas.

There’s even a space for creating your own checklist!

As a professional organizer it probably won’t surprise you that I love a good checklist. And, having done, or at least considered doing, most of the things in the book, I can say this is a good one! Honestly, the tip that spoke the loudest to me was: Get Certified. OK, maybe I will!

Do you have a genealogy checklist?

What’s your best genealogy tip and/or something you aspire to do?

Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.


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  1. Teri on March 9, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Yes. Get certified Hazel! Great review and sounds like a must-have book for the unorganized genealogist that I now am but hope to not be soon. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 13, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Teri. I know you won’t let me forget it, either! We’ll keep each other on track, OK?

  2. Seana Turner on March 13, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I have never worked on this, but there is a member of my husband’s family who has done extensive work in this area. It is interesting to see it all unfold. Like you, I’ve never met a checklist I didn’t like:)

    • Hazel Thornton on March 13, 2017 at 9:34 am

      I feel a little sorry for people who have had their genealogy handed to them. It’s so much fun to be the one in the family making all the discoveries!

  3. Sabrina Quairoli on March 13, 2017 at 9:27 am

    I never heard of this book before. What a great book for newbies and lifelong genealogy hobbyist. I am the keeper of the genealogy information for mine and my husband’s family. It’s fun to update my software and find extended family.

    • Hazel Thornton on March 13, 2017 at 9:32 am

      You haven’t heard of it because it’s brand new, hot off the presses!

      • Sabrina Quairoli on January 20, 2021 at 2:32 pm

        This book is so useful! I have been doing my family and my husband’s family genealogy for about 25+ years now. People may not think it is important, but it is so useful for the next generation. Thank you for creating this.

  4. Janet Barclay on March 13, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I look forward to reading the announcement of your certification!

    • Hazel Thornton on March 13, 2017 at 10:42 am

      OK. Don’t hold your breath waiting, though! It’s an extensive application package they want you to prepare, and once you’ve sent it in, it could still take months to approve, I’ve gathered.

  5. Linda Samuels on March 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    When both of our daughters were in middle school, they had to create a family tree and do some investigating into family history. They interviewed family members, collected photos, and put made some interesting discoveries. My Dad was the history keeper of the family. He was always discovering new family members. My brother has done a good job of continuing the tradition. If we were to get more serious about it, I bet this book you discovered would be very helpful.

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